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U.S. Cleans up on Clay at the 31st ITF Super Senior World Team Championships

A doubles team competes in the 31st ITF Super Senior World Team Championships
by Carolyn Nichols, special to USTA.com
The U.S. cornered the market on the gold medals at the 31st ITF Super Senior World Team Championships held October 10-16 at the Ali Bey Club Manavgat Resort in Turkey. The event was held on extremely slow red clay at this seaside resort on the Mediterranean. There were over 500 players present, from age 60 to 80+ competing for 10 Cups, which for these seniors are their Davis and Fed Cups.
The U.S. won the Alice Marble (W60), Althea Gibson (W70), Queens (W75), Baron Gottfried Von Cramm (M60), Britannia (M65), Bitsy Grant (M75) and Gardnar Mulloy (M80) Cups. The U.S. earned bronze medals by winning the third place playoff in the Kitty Godfree (W65) and placed third in the inaugural Doris Hart Cup.
The women’s 60s (Carol Clay, Kerry Young, Martha Downing and Molly Hahn) dominated their division, start to finish, never playing a deuce set in their four matches. They beat Australia in the semis behind the strong play of Martha Downing and smothering play of Kerry Young. In a rematch of the 2010 final, the women again faced France, but this year the U.S. was more dominant. Downing dropped only a game at #2 singles and Young beat the 2009 World Champion, Nicole Hesse-Cazaux 6-1, 6-4 to win the Cup.
The women’s 70s team (Sheila Weinstock, Charleen Hillebrand, Suella Steel and Susanne Clark) did not lose a set in singles all week due to the strong play of Hillebrand and Steel, both of whom are playing in their first year in the 70s. In fact, Clark and Weinstock, in winning three set doubles matches, spent longer on the court in their final two matches than Hillebrand and Steel did combined. The U.S. beat Germany for the tie. Interestingly, Clark is originally from Germany and on the opposing team, Heidi Attlefellner lives in the New England Section and Nanda Fischer is also a USTA member.
The Queens Cup team - women’s 75s - easily held on to their Cup behind the strong play of Carol Wood, Dorothy Matthiessen, Dori deVries and Burnett Herrick. Herrick, who was #3 on the team in 2011, was the 2010 world champion and deVries the 2011 European champion. They beat Germany in their final match 3-0 with both deVries and Matthiessen winning the singles convincingly. Their toughest match was against France in a preliminary round robin where both deVries and Matthiessen were pushed to deuce sets, though neither player conceded a set during the week.
The Bitsy Grant Cup team - men’s 75 - captained by Lester Sack with John Powless, Herm Ahlers and King Van Nostrand, put in another dominating performance in their division. Ahlers, Sack and Powless rotated at #2 singles and did not drop a set all week, and neither did Van Nostrand at #2, though he had a tough second set against Australia in the Cup final.
The Gardnar Mulloy Cup team - men’s 80s – captained by George McCabe with Russell Seymour, Jack Bradshaw and Mel Lewis, were seeded #1 but had a tough final round group, with defending champion Canada and a strong French team. These three countries played a round robin for the Cup. U.S. played #3 seeded France and won 3-0. McCabe never dropped more than a couple of games all week at #2 singles. Against France, Seymour faced the 2008 World Champion Henri Crutchet at #1 singles and he played an excellent match to beat Crutchet in straight sets. The doubles team of McCabe and Bradshaw won the doubles point to give the U.S. a 3-0 win. Combined with France’s 3-0 win over Canada, the day before, the U.S. knew it needed to win only one match against Canada on Sunday to bring the Mulloy Cup back home. McCabe clinched the Cup with a 6-1 6-1 win at #2 singles against Canada.
The final two U.S. wins were nail biters. The Britannia Cup (Jimmy Parker, David Nash, Charlie Hoeveler and Hugh Thomson) tie came down to the doubles match on Friday in the semis and Saturday in the final against France. On both days the U.S. lost at #2 singles. On Friday, Nash lost in three sets and on Saturday, Thomson gave it a go against the French #2, Michel Berges, whom he’d previously dominated in singles. But on Saturday, the Frenchman played inspired tennis and Thomson lost in three tight sets. Captain Parker came riding in to the rescue, beating his opponent on Friday and then Francois Pierson on Saturday to level the tie in each instance. The doubles team of Parker and Thomson secured the win on Friday to propel the U.S. into the final. On Saturday, though Parker won by the relatively tame score of 6-0, 7-5, the points were brutal, particularly in the second set, and the weather was much warmer. Against a bigger, harder hitting opponent, Parker mixed up drop shots, approaches and countered well, but the running took a toll on him. Scheduled with Thomson to play the deciding doubles, Parker began to cramp. Hoeveler was a last minute substitute. The U.S. won the first set 7-6 (4), holding off set points when the French team served for the first set at 5-4. The French team dominated the second set 6-2. The third set featured as many breaks as holds and fittingly went to a tiebreak won convincingly by the U.S. 7-6 (3).
The Von Cramm Cup (Brian Cheney, Larry Turville, Paul Wulf and Tony Dawson) finished a day later due to some very nasty weather, which cancelled many matches on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Some Monday matches weren’t finished until Thursday. The U.S. advanced to the final where they played Australia, led by Andrew Rae, who had a terrific record against Turville. Cheney started slowly against Aussie Ray Bray, dropping the first set 6-4 before winning the second 6-2. Bray put up little resistance in the final set and the U.S was up 1-0. Rae played impeccably to beat Turville 6-2, 6-1 at #1 singles. The U.S. put in first time Cup doubles team Dawson and Wulf against Rae and Max Bates to break the tie. The Americans played aggressive tennis to win 6-4, 6-2 and secure the Cup for the U.S.
The Kitty Godfree Cup team (Brenda Carter, Betty Wachob, Cathie Anderson, Judy Louie) seeded third, lost a heartbreaker in the semis to Great Britain. They won #2 singles and Carter was up a set against Britain but couldn’t close out the match, and Britain overpowered the Americans in their doubles match.
The Doris Hart Cup, played for the first time, went to Canada. The U.S. (Jane Lutz, Louise Russ, Joan Brisbin and Nancy Stout) finished third. The Jack Crawford Cup was won by Italy. The U.S. (Hank Leichtfried, Rudy Hernando, Joe Bachmann and George Sarantos) finished fourth.
Tennis is the sport of a lifetime and these lively seniors are living proof.


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